Interview with Frank Giuntu, July 26, 1981

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Interview with Frank Giuntu, July 26, 1981
Giuntu, Frank ( Interviewee )
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Hillsborough County Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
Hillsborough County (Fla.) -- History.


This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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This interview is part of the 'Hillsborough' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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DATE: 7-26-81

M: This is Mr. Frank Giuntu. Mr. Giuntu, why don't we begin in chronological order.

About your family, could you tell me something about your family and sister, when

you were growing up? What did your father and grandfather do in the old country.

G: To begin with, my parents applied for a voyage to the United States, in other words

to immigrate to this country. And they were put in line, to be notified when their

turn came. When their turn came, they took the whole family to Palermo, and as I

understand it, everyone that was to leave the country had to be examined. At that

time, I must have been about a year, maybe a year and a half old, and when they examined

me I had sore eyes, and the doctor refused to give me any medicine. He said that they

would not take anyone aboard who had any physical defects whatsoever and my eyes were
sore so I could not go aboard. And they could either leave me or they could all stay

whichever they wished. My grandmother being present and knowing what a hard time

people had because of the quota that they established at that time, if they did not

go that time, they would have been put on the back, in other words of that quota, and

it might have been several years and maybe never get there but my family could come

over to America. So my grandmother suggested that they all go and leave me with her,

which they did.

M: Hard decision huh? Now what year would this have been? What year were you born?

G: I was born in 1906.

M: O.K. so this is 1907, 1908.

G: We might have been in 1907 because my father came after me and we got here in 1911.

M: What did your father do before he immigrated to America, what kind of occupation?

G: I really do not know but I believed and they believed that they were all agriculturists

over there you know what I mean? Because when my father came you

see in 1911, I would have been four and a half to five years old. So I really did not

know my father or my mother or any of the members of my family besides my brothers

and I had three step-sisters because my mother had been married before she married

my father. And so when my father came to Italy to get me, he came by himself and

Page 2

being, like I said four and a half to five years old, and having never seen my father

or my mother I was scared of him. -You'know-l did not know who he was, he was just a

stranger to me. So I can not give you much background that concerns my parents in

I taly4 _-'carrnot-do-thaet.

M: Now do you remember Sicily?

G: I remember Sicily, /C6 s

M: Tell me what you remember, this was in SO'qn ic) " L FO ?

G: This was in S i--i ^ < i- As I remember, I would go from my grandmother

which was my paternal grandmother, to the house of my maternal grandfather, who was

living also, at the other end of town. And with him my uncle had left three children,

likewise he had come to this country at the same time my father and mother did and

was living in this country with my father and my mother. And so my maternal grand-

father had living with him three children, and one of the three was named Frank, which

was my first cousin and he used to take me to the country every once in a while to the

land, in other words that it was owned by my maternal grandfather, and I remember

sleeping out there under the stars at night out in the field and hearing the crickets.

M: You told me once several months ago that you recalled the scene about people carrying

water from the mountain. Was that you or someone else? I1I

G: No, I remember seeing people carrying water from the main thoroughfare from

-yes- which was -ng'-- .,-in toerh %iords-this-was something that was

below street level. The water must have been coming from the mountains and the water

S was clear, fresh and clean and the people usedto come form all over to fill their

S which are these clay jars and fill it for drinking purposes. And this

clean, pure, cold water coming down from the mountain, which I did not find there when

I went there the last time. I understand that that water has been distributed to

all the rest of the villages which like the water. But one thing that I remember clear-

ly that came to mind the other day, when you read this week about Halley's Comet which

was supposed to appear again in 1985. While I was living with my grandmother, Halley's

Page 3

Comet showed up. I realize now that it could not have been any other comet except

that and the comet, it was not like here-that you had to strain to see it, it was big,

just like you go out, and it seemed to me that it lasted maybe a week because every

night when it got dark there was that thing anmd I remember because my grandmother was

old and I was a child and the way that she feared that thing, because people were

saying that the world was coming to an end.And we could see that comet with a big tail

every night to the east, I remember looking this direction here. Every night I would

get up and see that thing and just tremble because my grandmother used to put her hands

together and pray that it may not happen that this thing would strike the earth, which

means we would all die. And now it says that it will come back again in 1985, that

is 's discovery and Halleyi:, found out when it would come back.

M: Do you remember any of the chuches there?

G: The churches as I remember were the, I do not remember the name of the church but I

do remember that there was at church where they used to celebrate the resurrection

every year and we were not far from what they called the

M: What was that?

G: That was like a convent where the, i*t' was being. operated by some monks which used to

participate in all the celebrations that they used to have, you know the Catholic

celebrations. Another thing I remember was the crucifixion on the hill. This was

another yearly thing that used to take place on top of one of hills on the outskirts

of the city or village of Orij And I always used to follow the

crowd even at that agevyor-know.

M: Now were you getting reports from your family, thatyTou _ereaware of at this time

O0 how they were doing in America?

G: Nothing at all. You see at that age nothing was communicated to me, I did not think

it was important and since I had never known my father or mother or members of my

family, I did not even inquire. The only ones I knew were the ones I had anything to

do with there which was my cousin Frank whic-h would once in a while come and take me

Page 4

-r, iK --
and put me on horseback and take me to the country, property which -wa cultivated

which my grandfather owned and which the family had left. There was the wheat and they

had fruit and so forth and that is where we used to go and spend time in those little

pieces of property in the outskirts.

M: So when your father came to get you, do you remember what happened then?

G: Well, we made peace at last. I remember he must have brought some chocolate candy, I

remember it was chocolate, and it was wrapped up in tin foil. So that was something

really that in a little town like that, children do not enjoy and so we began: to make

friends with the candy and the boy.i

M: I just remembered and we can go back, did your family have a at that time?

How did you get around when you went to the country? Did you walk or did you...

G: No, we used to go by horseback or mule or donkey, I do not remember which it was. I was

too young. But I know that that is the way, it was quite a distance from the village to

the country where this piece of property was. And this concerns my family, let's go

back again. -We were as a family;.in other words, if my family had been there like you

said, they--o d..have-one --e' chOrch'+ike you said and they would have gone to church

or someplace and taken the whole family we probably might have had some. But as it was,

jIiS-s my grandmother with whom I was left was a widow, and she lived alone / .i' !'

it was me and her.

M: Now when your father came to get you, did your grandmother come too or did she stay


G: No, she stayed there.

M: Oh, she never did come to America?

G: No, she never did come to America. She stayed there, she owned her home there, her hus-

band had left it, and she died there alone. She would not come. So I can not tell you

about Grandma'5life as far as I am concerned.

M: Describe you trip to America, how did you get from southernm-.. to Palermo?

G: From smothea to Palermo, that is where we used to __. _

Page 5

remember. With my father, my father's brother-in-law with him, my cousinr -thli- -was.

living with my maternal grandfather. Two girls and one boy, this was the one who used

to take me out to thq country. So it was my father, my three cousins, and myself in

this _. And we left SarrTT $- O',o in the afternoon, and I remember we

stopped somewhere a4 for the night before we got to the railroad stations which they

called And from I believe we went to Palermo.

M: What did you think of Palermo when you saw-it?

G: Well Palermo impressed me as being a big city. I remember when we got there in the

morning, we were in a big, big building, being a small child, it looked bigger than ever

to me. And do not-kaow-what we had for breakfast, they gave us bread and they gave

us wine in the morning, can .you imagine that? And the vgay number of people were dipping.

-t4e4 aipe cutting the bread in long pieces and dipping it in the wine. A little bit

later we were waiting to depart and so I went out of the building and we went across the

street and there was a park there and which I did finally get to know when we went back,

and the park had a high wall around it and on this wall there were some fountains,

flowing fountains, drinking fountains, which to me was something new, different from

t- i'- because it had faucets which you could squeeze -t,. like two ears,

and the water would come out when you squeezed it. I remember as a child doing that

and when I went back there, I think I still saw these fountains there now. You may

go up there and find them. So was one thing that :pressed me, that

I had never seen a train. And before we got there from the mountains, when you look

down, you see and ... must have had some T-lF sCeYIe could see

those- trains disappear inside the mountain or what, .se I did not know what it was

all about. .5 I could see this long train disappearing inside the mountain find to

me that was one of the strangest things that I saw as a child,d- hen after we left

Palermo I was very much impressed on the way here, going on the ship on the way here

To this country on the high seas, at night we must haveAsome other ship and it seemed

to me like it was all decorated so pretty, it had a lot of lights it seemed to me. fight

Page 6

vJCJ-j d
not have been that many but to me it was decorated like something that you see at
Disney World. I suppose coming from a country where you do not see any lights like that

might have seemed to me like it had that many lights. And then in the daytime, I would

stand on the deck and look out and see the great big ships, the ship that we were in

would seem to go down, down, down as if you took a bedsheet from four couners and put

the ship in the middle, a small ship and it would go down and see all the rest of the

fleet, way above that level and the sea would swell and then we would be way up high and

all the water all around would seem to go down like that because we were on top,of,

-G ( K; and it would keep on doing that. And the ship set out to sea in the

.hiwch seemed like small boats, seemed to me like they were several inches; like play

toys. I remember also when the sea got roughwe were supposed to have dinner on the

ship and it got so rough that everything would fall off of the tablet AR all the dishes

and everything, and the people would get sick, and I got sick too, my stomach could not

stand it and so we would all hold to something until this thing was all over. I also

remember going downstairs where the ship's motors were, and seeing all the bars going up

and down.

M; What was it like when you pulled into New York?

G: We went to New York. There again I can not recall anything about New York at all.

Nothing. That must have been confusion there you know, too much.

M: How about the train ride to Florida?

G; The train to Florida, I do not remember much of that either.

M: You remember your first glimpse of Ybor City, when you got off the train?

G: I do not remember that either.

M: -etme, what about when you reunited with your mother? You would not remember her

either would you?

G: No, I did not know her, I did not know my older brother. The other two brothers were

not born yet. So I had a brother and three sisters that I met here. None of them,

including my mother,,:, .' 1 .I'.I -ta me at the time because like I said, they had left

Page 7

when I was just an infant. So we had to get acquainted.

M: Who was growing up in Ybor City like?

G: Well in those days most of Ybor City was, the part especially where we lived was on

the countryside. There were a lot of ditches, it was sparsely populated...

M: Now where was this?

G: This was the eastern part of Ybor City. We used to live on Twenty-fifth Street and

Thirteenth Avenue.

M: That would have been not quite in the Italian district, yes, that would have been east

of the Italian district right.

G: Yes, east.

M: Now would you have classified the area as Italian or was there any ethnic

G: It was chiefly Italian I thiTk. Althoughpeople lived, there might have been five or

six families in onw'neighborhood. And quarter of a mile away there might have been
another group and half a mile away there might have been another single family, they

might have been a dairy family. Or another two or three blocks from where you lived

there might have been another farmer because Ybor City was then open. There were a lot

of farms and a lot of Ybor City on this side of Twenty-second Street, east. And south

was all farmland.

M: Owned by any particular group?

G: The groups that owned it were mostly American people. And particularly one Dr. Douglas.

Dr. Douglas used to own not only great portions of land in Ybor City, which he cultivated

in seasonal vegetables, but he owned property in Plant City, Perry, Florida, Dade City,
and other parts//I whichh he used to employ even my father to find people who would like

to go out and farm with them for instance for one month and come back to Tampa MW and

then go back again. The reason that they used to go for a month was because they used

to take food from here, there were no stores appare.t-y where they used to work, it was

unpopulated like yesterday. And there were no facilities so they used to take their food

for a month or so and these men used to cook for themselves and do for themselves and

Page 8

,'--jLL:boutthey took enough food to last them for a month and then come back for some

more. So this was the life that most of the people were doing around this part of the

country. Now, to the west of Twenty-second Street in Ybor City, was the old part of

Ybor City in which the cigar industry had started, which you have heard about. This was

the heart of Ybor City then. The factories were established, they were well known,

the products had already received acceptance throughout this country and perhaps in some

parts of the world and cigars were being sold all over. The industry which had been

started by the Spaniards was enjoyed by Spaniards mostly because they had started it and

they had all the main jobs in these factories. A lot of Italians were employed.but like

Ssa id thet h ie f in each fac to ry the manage rs and so fo rth w e re Span ish peo p le and they

used to make good money, they used to spend it accordingly, and they had nice homes.

M: How about your father, what did he do?

G: My father like I said, he was employed most of the time by Dr. Douglas, so he was a....

M: What would you call him, a farmer?

G: Well not so much a farmer-because he used to farm with these people and he used to go

over there.

M: That's interesting.

G: That was in the farming business.

M: Did he raise, he worked specifically for Douglas, and he did not raise those tools


G: Well later on we did. Dr. Douglas decided to sell out all of hi.s property and we bought

some of his land in Ybor City. And my father bought a horse and wagon and he did sell

his products. The horse and wagon was not to peddle, but to take it from the farm to

the market '-a large quantities.

M: There seem to be a lot of Italians doing stuff like that., yAny explanation why Italians

prfdominated in that area?
G: In the farm? Well let's put it like this, Italy for instance, and those parts of the

country like Sicily where we came from, there were no industries, no factories like you

Page 9

would find in or in a big city, usually where there is a city there is a

demand for different things that have to be manufactured. So im factories show up and

the people learn the skills that are necessary to run those factories. But when you are

out in the village such as those parts of Sicily, you would iJr hardly find any factories

you might find for instance, somebody skilled in working leather, or -he=mz ht be somebody

who used to shoe horses, in which case he might be a professional with working with iron-

you.klnoa.-whaf-mean? / blacksmith for instance. He could learn to work.,. But other-

wise these people were an agricultural society and so when they came here, the first

thing was what can you do? You have to earn a living. So-'1'-s-sairt with the land.

&e-'either went to work for somebody else or they found a piece of land of their own and

cultivated it and sold the products whichh sometimes made a good living like in Cali-

fornia you know. They created an industry of their own there and by getting thousands

and thousands of acres then their products that they were raising like the

vineyards, they began to make wine and so forth and some of the wine industries came up

from that, from fruits that they raised and so forth and shipped. So that is the reason

that.. i rh .;00 ,OU, ,- f.7
t h a
M: Did your father ever say why he did not go into the cigar industry like so many others?

G: When he worked in the cigar industry for a little while but there were men:)J1 jobs that

they used to give to people, like I said the best jobs were given to the people that

knew the-Spaniards. So in Ybor City there were some elements that began to notice that

there were -inproprjeties in the way that the workers were treated. So they would have

from time to time l-\ ; '" -'i ': -S+DE-TWO.-APE' :-BE GINS -Wfti-4- -

They would call people out -frm 0)'' S L;.Xand they demanded certain fli ____
I do not know what they were at that time, I was not familiar with itflEg-

But the people did strike and the manufacturers would not agree to whatever it was and

sometimes the things would go on for six months, eight months and the. people just -ga.

out of money. The grocery man and the milk man and the bakery man would go bankrupt

because they would give their product as long as people could pay but they still have to

Page 10

pay for what they used. And so they had to stop giving food, the milkman could not keep

on giving milk and the baker could not keep on giving his bread away and the grocer7man

he might give two, three or four months but then i*e does he get his groceries from

the wholesalers. So everybody was suffering, there would be wide suffering throughout

Ybor City. So when the people began to think about these things they began to think of

how.jitiS get out from under These were economic pressures that they could not stand.

So if a man or a woman could get out from the cigar industry, especially if he was not

in the favored class that ruled in the factory, and making good money so that he could

withstand six months or a year of strife.

M: Now do you remember 1910 strike, would you have been here in 1910?

G: No I got here in 1911.

M: 1911. Oh, well do you remember like the 1920 strike?

G: Yes.

M: What do you remember about it?

G: -Ido not -remember :the. .1920, -th s M --_______ thing-might have, there were two-I-t-aij '-.

M: Abio.
G: This other feill7o, I think it was in New York, and we were accused of II j -- ].i

M: Oh, Stockholrm rcir'.n\ right.

G: They accused them but they claimed they were innocent. And over here there was striking

and demonstrating at the Labor Temple they called it in Ybor City which was located

between Sixteenth and Seventeenth Street on Eighth Avenue. And there was a lot of commo-

tion amongst all the workers of all nationalities because they figured that they were

doing an injustice to the working class by accusing them of something that was not so.

In other words, capital against labor this was the thingJ 0.i ,'

M: What do you think about that now? There is a lot of confusion among historians whether

Italians were radicals or not. What is your impression? Did Italians seem to strike

very much? Did they welcome radical activities or did they spurn it? Some say they

just wanted to work and be left alone, others say that.....

Page 11

G: I do not believe that the Italians were articulate enough in the language in this

country to start things like that. But since they had to depend on someone else to

favor them at a job, if they were asked to participate I am sure that they would

have because they always had the worst jobs. In other words, they could understand

more when they should strike than the other fellowebecause they did not have the easy

white-collar job,, In any industry where the person that is in charge at the top has

authority and has a good pay and has a good living, you could see that he would not

be so willing to participate in anything like this so if they have to have a scape-

goat in anything, they would get the one that was-eil and then they-could _i_ _

M: Do you remember.,...

G: I remember when my sister was over there in New Yor

--- -:-' 'r Boston, wherever it was.

M: Do you remember the name Ponepinto? Does that ring a bell with you?

G: Oh yes. That was another thing that scared the life out of me. I was justO \OUno

.\, yCV (yiC" ^ .. i. i., when this occurred and the Ponepinto was a social worker down

at the plant. He was a real good-hearted man. Everybody loved him in Central Station

and perhaps in every city in Sicily. Because he was always looking out for the poor

man and he was murdered. I was driving with my grandmother and again I was terrified

because she was terrified. They used to say that on the night he was murdered they

had these lights on the streets that they used to light by hand, and that night they

did not light those, and there was no moonlight and there was no lamplight and it

seemed like there was no one around that could witness the crime, later on I

remember that somebody that could not read or write but he was a poet, he wrote a

poem about it. I have not been able to locate it, we used to have it. But I remem-

ber just a few words, because like I say I was too young and as I grew up I still

can remember the people just holding the poem from their minds, but the fellow tha4


made the poem somebody else had to write it because he did not know how to write.

And it went something like this, if I remember right.

I cannot remember any more than that. But this is what it meant,-qar they were accusing

the authorities of cooperating with some groups in order to kill him. And-4"have-been ..

trying-to- 1ocate-somebody-- .. So I remember that

part but then what followed that was a whole, seemed to me that is must have been

several weeks, people from all around, they must have come from all the villages in

Sicily, with black flags and all kinds of flags and just parade through the streets

with the bands ,/AjaoilQ, marched down through the main street in -ZJ' .r<-e r"

and it continued/people making speeches and gathering with those black bands. I still

remember, I used to tremble because of the way that the old people used to talkand I

remember my grandmother, it seemed like nobody was safe anymore, the way they were

talking. They could kill anybody, in other words the authorities were not protecting

the workers and this fellow was a social worker. That is what I remember about

M: In Tampa, did you have much to do with the Italian clubs when you were young man?

What do you remember about the early Italian clubs on Seventh Avenue?

G: The Italian club on Seventh Avenue I remember when it was located on the north side of

the street before it burned. Then it burned and they rebuilt it on the south side

of the street. And I remember Mr. Antenore being a secretary of our Italian club for

years and years. He was well-versed in Italian, he knew the Italian language well,

he must have had good schooling in Italian because he represented the colony well.

He could speak on any subject in good Italian and he used to write a bulletin in

Italian for the club. And he used to urge the younger generation/including me, to

be active and contribute something to the bulletin once in a while. Wtlcfa :-4 g-riew

ufcthen-nd I remember one time I wrote them an article and it was about lSe citizenship

if I remember correctly, and it must have been in English as I remember 3

it, and the published it. At that time I was working in the bank in Ybor

City. I had been transferred from the Citizen Bank here in town, by them

to the bank in Ybor City which was growing and they wanted me to transfer

from hand bookkeeping which I did. My teacher in Italian, I did learn

Italian then, not very much, but I did start off with a teacher whose name

was Mr. Romano. Mr. Romano was a preacher, I think that he was a

Methodist preacher, here on Ninth Avenue and Seventeenth Street right

across form the General Telephone Company, you will see a two story block

building that was the school that we started. When the money gave out,

apparently the school was disrupted. That school used to teach English,

Spanish and Italian, all under the same roof.

M: And you went there full time rather than to the public school?

G: No, when I started, because I was younger than six years old I could not

be allowed in the public school as yet, so I enrolled in this school. To

go to this school you had to work in the church, and the church was

located on the back side there of that block building. And like I said

they used to teach Spanish, Italian and English, all three. And you could

take one or you could take all, but I started with the Italian, and it was

not very long after I started there that the school just did not have any

more money, and the mission just disrupted all the teaching and it

finished. Somehow Mr. Romano must have been fighting for some additional

money, and at Twentieth Street and Ninth Avenue there was a space that

Rosenburg, I believe, used to own. They had a store, and he had a space

left unrented, and it was about twenty-five by forty feet deep, and Mr.

Romano, through the church, got that as a school again. So I started

again at this new school. As I remember, the charge was fifty cents a

week to go to the school, and he was teaching Italian only, Mr. Romano,

which he used to do at the old place. I remember getting started there

again to learn the alphabet, having to learn the LaBaillia(?). The

LaBaillia starts with the five vowels, A, E, I, O, U., and after you learn

those, you start with the consonants, B, C, D and so forth. So my first

assignment again was to learn the alphabet. I remember one day he called

me up there, and in Italian when you recite you have to go to the

teacher's desk, and you face the class, you know, and you recite the

alphabet. And that day I started, and I mumbled out five or six letters

and stopped. I could not remember any more, and he says, "Now you have

got to do better than that, you have got to study some more." And I

believe another day I went up there and got just a few more, but I could

not make it. And I went there the next week, and I could not make it.

And one day he says, "Look, Francesco," he had a vest, and coming out of

his pocket he had a gold watch, a chain went through the middle button

here, and something else was in his pocket, so he took it all out, and he

took the watch and he dangled it in front of me, it is a gold watch. He

says, "Francesco, if you learn the alphabet..." I do not remember, it

might have been the end of the week, you know, "By Monday, I am going to

give you this watch."

M: That open mouth! I have got to ask, did you get the watch?

G: I did not, I got what I think is better than the watch. But, so Monday,

when I got up there, I had mastered it. So, all right, I never got the

watch, and the school again ran out of money. By that time I became six

years old. With the LaBaillia, my oldest brother, Angelo, finished with

what they were teaching in Italian school, at that school before they

broke up, and my brother Angelo became so proficient at Italian that they

had him teaching other children there in the lower grades. So Angelo was

teaching me how to read Italian from this little book, and with the


LaBaillia, when you get through with it, I do not know if it has thirty or

forty pages in it, but by the time that they take the vowels and they put

them in front and in back of each consonant, there is nothing that can

stop you from reading. So I learned to read Italian, and like I said, by

the time I was six years old, Romano lost his little mission again and

disappeared from Tampa. I went to public school.

M: Which one?

G: To the B. M. Ybor School(?) which is now on Columbia Drive. Then it was

Michigan Avenue and between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Street. They put me

in the baby class, and the teacher showed us "A, this is A," she showed us

B. All right, she would call on me, "What is this?" and I would look at

the letter, "A, B, C." And other times she would show something else, and

it got to be, you know, "That is A." "What is this?" "B." "What is

this?" "C." She would go back then and change it around, "What is this?"

She says "You do not belong in this class." Well, they take me out and


M: Did you know English by then?

G: No, I did not. So, they took me to four or five different classes, and by

the end of the day, I wound up in the third grade, because they could not

stop me, you see.

M: All in one day, huh?

G: So you see I got more than the watch out of it. All right, let us leave

it at that. I was working in a bank.

M: Now how did you get in the banking business? What made you go into


G: I was going to the B.M. Ybor School which went up to the sixth grade.

When we got to the sixth grade, they did not have any more rooms. There'

were six in there, and they sent me to another school. This was the W. B.

Henderson School. I graduated from the sixth grade from that school, and

when I graduated from there, I went to George Washington Junior High.

George Washington Junior High was seventh, eighth and ninth. I finished

with the seventh, and by that time things were bad at home, so the family

began to ask me what did I intend to do to make a living. In other words,

did I want to go and learn cigar-making, or what were my intentions?

Well, I began to think then, what did I want to do? And I was watching

the papers and seeing advertisements that said that bookkeepers were

needed and all, and officers were needed. So I told my parents that I

think that I should learn bookkeeping, go to one of these colleges and

pick up bookkeeping, accounting, stenography and so forth. "Yes, but what

about the money?" "Well, let us go and find out what it is, you know."

And so there was a Tampa business college which was advertising a lot, and

we went there one day, and they said, "Well, what would you like to take?"

"Well, what do you have to offer?" They said, "Well, we have bookkeeping

courses, and bookkeeping's course on Mondays costs forty dollars," until

you graduate, you know, "And if you take one in banking, it is twenty

dollars in addition to that, and for stenography, it is another forty

dollars. If you want typing, it is another forty dollars." All together,

in other words, if you took all the courses, in amounted to 120 to 150

dollars for whatever time, until you graduated in all of them. So they

asked me, "What do you want to take?" I said, "I would like to take all

of them." "All right." So I did, and we hunted down the money.

M: It must have been quite an investment.

G: Yes, at that time. But, I had intended to get through with my schooling,

which I never did. I graduated from the seventh, I never went to the

eighth grade, or ninth or tenth. I never went to high school, you see.

M: A self-educated man.


G: I went to this school until I finished all these courses, bookkeeping and

banking, and stenography, typing and so forth. I got all of my diplomas

for that, see? And then I began to look for jobs, then I had small jobs

at the college sundry from time to time. And here is something that is

strange. I had been applying in just about every bank in town, telling

them my qualifications, so they used to tell me, "If we need you, we will

let you know." So one day while I was out of work, see I always used to

hang around the college over there, either stenographing or keeping up

with things, and one day the telephone rang in the office, and Mr. Hammond

says to me, "Frank, they need a typist at the courthouse," and he says,

"Would you like to go over there and check on it, see if you would like to

try it?" And I said, "Yes, sir, I would like to do it." So I went, and I

found out it was in the Supervisor of Registration office, just before

voting time. They were getting all the names of all the folks in the

county, and they were making lists of them to distribute to the different

polling places. So I went in there and I reported, "I am from Tampa

(Taylor?) Business College, and Mr. Hammond(?) says you needed a typist,

so I am here." "Well I thought they were going to send a girl." "Well,

we do not have any girls, so they sent me." Then he says, "Well, are you

a good typist?" I says, "I consider myself a fair one anyway." "Look, we

nee somebody that does not make mistakes, because we have Latin names,

Italian names, Spanish names, Jewish names, we have some Greek names, and

I do not want any mistakes made, do you understand?" I says, "Yes, sir."

He says, "What are you?" I says, "I am Italian." "Well then you should

be pretty accurate in typing a lot of these names." I says, "I think so,

sir." And so he says, "Well, wait a minute now, we will find you a

typewriter, and you can go to work. Now let me tell you how we pay you.

We have someone who delivers sheets of that length, eight and a half by

fourteen inches, and two carbons. You have to make three copies, and for

every name and address that you write, we will give you three cents, and

so it is up to you. Now if you type it wrong, you do not get paid for it.

Do you understand?" "Yes, sir." So they looked around, "Hey, how about

another typewriter here, we need to get this man a desk!" And they give

the last, he says, "This is the last typewriter we have." It was the

worst one that they had. It was the oldest, and it was a Remington, and I

do not think that you see that anymore. The Remington was about this

high, and the letters, everytime a stroke came up, it made a noise, it

made a musical noise. From where they type was to where it was tied down

to this circle, it was such a distance that it was a tremendous joltage it

would give you in your fingers. So they gave me this typewriter and it

was the loudest thing. They had about twenty girls there. My typewriter

was the loudest of them all, because of the metallic sound. It sounded

like a catapult(?) you might say, no matter where it came from, the middle

or the side, so much so that it disrupted the girls around me. I was a

good typist, I was fast, so they gave me these great big books, you opened

it up and you copied from there, and at the end of the day, they counted

the sheets which gave you the number of names that I had copied. The

first day I earned sixty-five dollars.

M: At three cents apiece.

G: At three cents apiece, you know. In fact, they had sent me to work in

some factory, and they knew that I was out of college.